In two matches, played continents apart, women cricketers from Australia and India beat their opponents comprehensively in 50-over games. In a day/night game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, it was the first time in the ongoing series for women’s ashes that Australian women dictated terms in the second ODI. After conceding eight points to England from losses in the test match and the first ODI, Australia snatched two points for themselves with an emphatic victory on Thursday. With another ODI and three T 20 games to follow, Australia needs to play in the same forceful manner, as they did today. This is the only way to keep the Ashes Urn at home. In Visakhapatnam’s Rajasekhara Reddy Stadium, Indian women thrashed Sri Lanka in the third ODI on January 23, 2014 to complete a 3-0 ODI whitewash. India had earlier won the first and second ODI, at the same venue with comprehensive ease. In both the earlier games, India had beaten Sri Lanka by seven wickets after cheaply dismissing them in the first innings.
At the MCG on Thursday, debutant Nicole Bolton, justified her inclusion in the team, with a well-compiled 124 off 152 balls and helped Australia reach 266/7 in 50 overs. After skipper Mag Lanning won the toss and chose to bat first, Bolton walked in with Lanning to open the innings for Australia. After 9 overs Australia were 39/0 but Lanning got out in the 10th over. Bolton found the company of Jess Cameron and the two women added 95 runs for the second wicket, before Cameron fell in the 32nd over. But Bolton carried on until the 43rd over, before she was bowled by Natalie Sciver. Even after the departure of Cameron and Bolton, Alex Blackwell continued to collect runs in the dying overs. Blackwell’s was the last wicket to fall in the 50th over, but by this time Australia had already reached a match-winning score. England had a bad day in the field, as too many catches were dropped.
England began disastrously; losing two quick wickets for 13 in the seventh over. Skipper Charlotte Edwards was out for duck on the first ball of the innings. The English women, however, fought back as Sarah Taylor and opener Heather Knight added a quick-fire 84 for the third wicket. Knight was out in the 23rd over after scoring 55 in 68 balls. Arran Brindle joined Taylor and the two of them compiled another useful stand, which yielded 54 runs for the fourth wicket. Taylor scored her 13th fifty in the ODI matches and at this point England had their chances. When Taylor was 63, she was run out by a smart direct throw by Bolton from mid-wicket. Australia gained an upper hand yet again by snapping a few quick wickets. A useful knock of 57 from 42 balls by Natalie Sciver, raised England’s hope briefly, but the target of 267 proved too stiff in the end as England were bowled out for 240 in the 47th over. In the Ashes series, England still have an 8-2 lead but Australia’s performance at MCG must caution them to do better in the remaining fixtures.
At Visakhapatnam, for the first time in the ODI series, India batted first and scored 229/5 in the allotted 50 overs. The start of the innings, however, was bad as both openers departed by the 12th over with just 49 on the board. But Captain Mithali Raj took charge, and in the company of Harmanpreet Kaur, added 57 runs for the third wicket. Raj kept losing her partners at regular intervals, while she kept one end to herself, till the very end. After the loss of four wickets, Raj added 42 runs with Amita Sharma for the fifth wicket and 81 with Jhulan Goswami for the sixth. It was a great effort by the captain, who also hit two glorious sixes in her score of 104 not out, compiled in 109 balls.
The way the Sri Lankan women have been batting in the series, the target of 230 was daunting in itself. Moreover, they lost early wickets to some immaculate bowling by the Indians. To the credit of Sri Lanka, it must be mentioned that their second wicket pair of Lasanthi Madushani and Chamari Atapattu, lasted until the 17th over, though they couldn’t pile up any big score. For India, Poonam Yadav bowled a tight length to finish with the figures of 10-3-13-4. India’s latest find, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, also bowled creditably, taking 2/16 in 9 overs. With Sri Lanka offering little resistance, their innings folded at 134, allowing India to get away with a 95-run well-deserved victory. The two teams will now play a 3-match T 20 series, which begins on Saturday January 25, 2014.